Each year, the city of Miami hosts the Florida Bar’s Pre-Moot competition – a prelude to the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court which will be held in Vienna later this spring. The FIU Law team of Alexander Thorlton, Stephano Salani, Dick Ortega, Ivette Delgado and Isidora Enriquez took home third place. The team also received a $2,500 award from the International Law Section of the Florida Bar to help defray the cost of their upcoming trip to Vienna. Thorlton also received a second place award in the Best Oralist category. The team was coached and mentored by Professor Manuel Gomez and visiting scholar Victorino Tejera.
The local competition serves as the training ground for the Vis Moot in Vienna and allows the teams to experience what it feels like to be in real international arbitration proceedings. “The Florida Bar Pre-Moot is an excellent opportunity to prepare for the Vis Moot. The arbitrators were excellent, and have taken the time to become familiar with the problem. The competition is also very good which usually makes your own presentation better as well,” Thorlton shared.
Since October 2013, the team has been researching the issues, writing memoranda and practicing their oral arguments during intensive weekly meetings.
“We practiced on our own as a team and even went to local law firms to benefit from real world advice,” Thorlton continued.
The team also recognizes that the coaching they received was instrumental to their success. “Both our coaches, Professor Manuel Gomez and Victorino Tejera, were crucial in the development of our team. They shared their practice experiences and deep knowledge of arbitration, but most importantly, they would always make themselves available to provide guidance and assistance. We all share this triumph – it was the result of a team effort,” Enriquez shared. It was Enriquez’ first time participating in this competition and “although it was a lot of work it was extremely rewarding. It challenged my knowledge and preparation as well as my ability to create legal arguments on the spot.”
Professor Gomez also highlighted the educational purpose of the competition and its unique contribution to giving the students a glimpse of how it is to practice law in a globalized world. “This is one of the best opportunities our students have to experience first-hand how to manage a transnational commercial case. This is our fifth year participating in it and our students and I have been always grateful for the support that the dean of the College of Law has given us,” he commented.
Vis Moot was created as a clinical tool for training law students in crucial aspects of research, drafting and advocacy within the international business community. The competition simulates cases based on real issues and are attempting to be resolved through arbitration rather than in court.